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French economy stifled by rules pegged to staff size

Small-medium firms feel trapped by endless bureacratic demands; Hollande finally pushing through reforms

Paris

OF all the decisions that Dominique Goubault says have helped to keep his 117-year-old family business alive, one in particular raises eyebrows: limiting his staff numbers to 49 or fewer.

The CEO is among many bosses in France who won't hire a 50th worker, in order to avoid the subsequent obligation to run and pay for an in-house works council - something Mr Goubault says is costly, time-consuming, and "entirely useless".

His frustration is shared by bosses of small and mid-sized businesses right across France, who say their growth is stifled by endless bureaucratic demands regulating everything from worker representatives to office space to healthcare.

It's a cry that President Francois Hollande...

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